I guess everyone eventually falls into a project! I didn't really plan to ever build a full size truck for my expedition vehicle but that is what came my way. I would have much rather had a Unimog or an long wheelbase jeep in some respects, but all around I don't think I made a bad choice.
This is also my first Dodge, and what a beast it is! I grew up a ford guy, then messed around with toyota, jeeps, etc. I have been off-roading for the past 15-20 years now. I still have my old 1942 Willys jeep, and that was probably the number one reason I got this truck. I need something to tow the old Willys around. Since we moved down to Southwest Colorado it is absolutely killing me that Moab is only 2.5 hours away, not to mention all the high mountain Colorado trails right out my back door, montrose, and farmington....all close enough for weekend trips!
Now I didn't just run out and buy the first diesel truck I could find. I looked LONG AND HARD to find it. In the end it did fall into my lap being that it was local to me.
The number one thing I wanted was a diesel. Since college I have had a thing for alternative fuels. Diesel engines 'can' burn about anything in an emergency, and can digest a solid diet of cheap alternative fuels if proper care is taken.
The second thing I really wanted was a 'Rebuild-able' and 'Simple' truck. I didn't want a fluffy new truck that uses a lot of special tools and parts. I wanted something very simple that could be maintained and fixed with simple hand tools and no computers. The drivetrain needed to be very strong and also have serviceable wheel bearings, brakes, etc.
After looking around at just about everything produced since the 70s I decided on the 1st generation Dodge truck. I feel they are the last of the truly rebuild-able trucks.
Once I had decided on what I wanted to get....I had to find one. I looked locally in the paper, on bulletin boards, Craigslist, ebay, etc. I was pretty picky in what I wanted. I wanted a 1992 or 1993 since they came with the first of the Intercooled Turbocharged Cummins engines. I also wanted a manual transmission. I have gone back and forth over the years about transmissions......generally I always end up with a manual. The Getrag transmission in these trucks isn't the best, but I think it gets a bad rep most of the time. Its a decent all iron granny 5-speed. The transmission is backed by the last np205 transfer cases used in the dodge lineup. It also has 32 spline front and rear outputs. The front axle is the last of the King-pin Dana 60s with serviceable bearings. The rear axle is a 32 spline Dana 70 full floating axle. All in all I think its the best 'stock' drivetrain you can get in a pickup unless you want to start swapping stuff.
Anyways. I am sure you are all bored by now so I will get on with it. I ended up finding a very well used 1992 W250 locally. It was the truck that I would have ordered off the showroom floor back in the day. The 92-93 W250s have the same 8" tall frame as the 1-ton trucks. The only difference between the 3/4ton and 1ton as far as I can tell is the rear spring packs and perhaps some rear brake parts. The truck was WELL used overall, but I purchased it for $2000. I don't care who you are....getting just the drive train for that was a good deal!
Here are some pics of the truck the day I went and got it....
Its a project for sure....
Its a 1992 W250 manufactured in april of 92.
Intercooled Cummins Turbo Diesel
5-speed manual transmission
Regular cab longbed
Tilt steering, intermittent wipers
Manual window and locks
It was owned by the same family for most of its life. It was recently passed down from father to son. The son was very artistic and decorated the truck with lots of tags and stickers! Those where the first things to come off!
The truck also came with a nice reciever hitch, a gooseneck hitch, new front springs to level the truck, 16x8" aluminum rims, 315/75r16 worn out tires, 240K on the odometer, no front driveshaft, a very rough body covered in a thin coat of cheap bedliner, a cracked windshield, and no drivers side window in the door!